If you take a day trip from Kyoto, make it Himeji. The famous many-tiered white castle at Himeji is acclaimed as Japan’s most beautiful and complete historic citadel.
Known as the White Egret, the hilltop castle was built in 1580. The main features are its five-story central tower and surrounding moats, walls and pagodas. From its mountain-top eerie, the castle appears to float on a sea of Japanese pine trees.
Take an organized tour to discover the castle’s history and many nuances, such as the many openings in the defensive walls that were used for pouring boiling oil onto intruders.The castle grounds are flanked by the ponds and tea rooms of Koko-en Gardens, a welcome retreat for a stroll or lunchtime stop.
Review by kellythepea, USA, October 2010
Himeji is around 50 km (31 mi) west of Kyoto. To get here, either take an organized tour or jump on a shinkansen bullet train (under an hour) or slower JR Tokaido train (a bit more than 1.5 hours).